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FAIRBANKS - Musk oxen deaths among the herd researchers keep at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have been blamed on a trace mineral deficiency.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that nine oxen have died at the university's Large Animal Research Station after a school veterinarian euthanized two older bulls that never recovered from the suspected deficiency.
Veterinarian John Blake said all the animals were underweight and lacking in cobalt, copper and selenium - essential for the animals.
The deaths of nine of the school's 36 musk oxen represent the biggest die-off since the herd was established in 1979.
The condition of the remaining 25 animals in the herd is improving with mineral supplements and vitamin injections.